5 tips for looking after your Dog’s Teeth

We all love it when we can get a big doggie smile and we love to see our dogs happy and healthy. While diet and exercise are important ways to keep your dog in great physical shape, we often neglect our dogs teeth. However,dogs can still develop problems like tartar and plaque buildup and gingivitis, just like humans can and this can effect how long they keep their teeth in good chomping condition. Also, canine dental problems can actually lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease, just like with people, so it is important to consider the health of your dogs teeth. Veterinarians report that an estimated 85 percent of dogs over age 4 are suffering from some form of periodontal disease, a painful oral condition that can lead to tooth loss and infection.

How can you tell if your dog has issues with their teeth, because even if your pooch is suffering from a toothache or sore gums, they are unlikely to show much sign of the issue. The first hint is likely to be their bad breath. We think that it is only natural for dogs to have bad breath, but in fact this is most likely a sign of tooth decay and poor dental hygiene above and beyond what is healthy for dogs. You should also look out for reddened, bleeding or swollen gums, crusted yellow-brown tartar build-up on the teeth and drooling you’re your dog has severe gingivitis you might also notice them dropping food when they eat, eating on one side of their mouth, or not eating at all, which can all lead to weight loss. While you’re giving their mouth a good once over, look for fractured, discoloured or missing teeth and lumps and bumps on their gum line and make sure their jaw itself isn’t swollen or misshapen.

So what can you do if you notice your dog’s teeth are in really bad condition? And more importantly, what can you do to stop them from getting to be really bad in the first place.

1. Brush your dogs teeth

This could possibly seem a bit weird to most of us, just because we are not used to thinking of brushing our dog’s teeth, but it is increasingly more common and a really good idea. Vets suggest that while daily is best, it could be a bit tricky to manage, so aim for three to four times per week if you can get your dog to cooperate. And we say cooperate, because most dogs aren’t too fond of the idea at first, but you can easily train your dog to have their teeth brushed the same way you would to have their nails trimmed. Eventually with coaxing and giving them treats and encouragement, your dog will become more comfortable with getting their teeth brushed.

A really important thing to do before attempting to brush your dogs teeth is to invest in the proper tools of the trade. You may not know it, but human toothpaste is actually toxic to dogs and definitely can’t be used for brushing your dog’s teeth. Invest in dog toothpaste and finger brush kit, which will make the job a lot easier and ensure there are no harmful side effects for your dog.

2. Eat Kibble

Just like with humans, what you give your dog to eat will also affect the health of their teeth. Soft tinned food can be really bad for your dog’s teeth and gums, the doggie equivalent of drinking a gallon of soda and eating a tonne of candies. Crunchy kibble is better for your dog’s teeth than soft food, as soft food is more likely to stick to the teeth and cause decay. The best way to find a good kibble for your dog, especially one that will be good for their teeth is to look for a label with the "VOHC-approved" stamp on any dental-cleansing product, which means they meet the tooth cleaning protocols established by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. This will ensure you are feeding your dog the best food to maintain their dental health.

3. Chewing and gnawing

This is probably the most well known way that we use to keep your dogs teeth clean and in good shape. Giving your dog a good bone to chew on can help get rid of build up and keep teeth strong. The chewing action helps to scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth, leaving them in much better condition. This method is not as good as brushing your dog’s teeth, as there are areas that may be ignored and won’t be cleaned, but it is still a good method.

If you are worried about the extra calories, as bones can be a bit fatty for a dog, there are natural choices like include rawhide or a knucklebone and can be found in low calorie options. You could also ask your vet to recommend dog dental treats made specifically to remove plaque buildup and the bonus with these is that they often contain ingredients that freshen breath and clean your dog’s mouth. So it’s a double win.

Other than food, dog rope toys are a good choice, which can provide a chewing option to clean your dogs teeth. They last for a long time, and won't cut your dog's gums.

4. Dental wipes

If you aren’t able to get your dog to sit quietly for a tooth brushing session, dog dental wipes or pads are a good option to help clean your dogs teeth. They can even be used for a dog who is ok with tooth brushing, but when there's no time for full brushing. The way they work is that by wiping your dogs teeth and gum line with the special dental wipes, you will whisk away some bacteria and food. You can use a canine dental pad, available at most pet stores, or a simple gauze pad wrapped around your finger.

While this is good option for cleaning your dogs teeth, the only downside to using the dog dental wipes rather than a doggie tooth brush, is that the dental wipes are not able to get into the tiny nooks and crannies that a brush does. The upside however, is that the dog dental wipes are much easier than tooth brushing for a dog as it won’t feel quite so weird.

5. Dental check up from vet

During your regular vet check ups, it’s important to make sure that you get your vet to check your dogs teeth, at least every six to twelve months. Just like a human. And while most vets will do a customary teeth check with your dog, you can also ask for them to do a full dental cleaning. A professional dental cleaning by your vet is the best way to maintain your dog’s dental hygiene. 

So by combining your regular vet check and full dental cleaning with the methods mentioned above, you can ensure that your dog has healthy and strong teeth for life.



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